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Jim Kenyon: Spring Look

With spring in the air, I figured it’s a good time for a check-up. So here is what’s been happening with a few of the people I’ve written about in this space at one time or another.

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Dave Tupper arrived at his Canaan carpentry shop in mid-February to find that the place had been ransacked and many of his tools missing.

This week, Canaan Police Chief Sam Frank told me that his department had made an arrest in the case. Charles Wallace, 57, of Canaan, has been charged with committing a string of a half dozen burglaries, including Tupper’s shop, in Canaan and Dorchester, according to Grafton Superior Court records. Some of the burglaries dated back to last fall.

Yesterday, Wallace was being held in the Grafton county jail on $7,000 cash bail.

When I wrote about the theft in February, Tupper was worried that the tools had been broken into pieces and the metal sold to salvage yards. Court records didn’t indicate whether any of Tupper’s tools had been recovered.

Tupper, 46, is a self-employed carpenter who specializes in small remodeling projects. The burglary cost Tupper many of his hand tools. A table saw and chop saw were also taken.

Since the break-in at his shop, several people have offered to lend him tools. He’s also replaced some saws and drills by using a store credit at LaValley’s, which sold him new tools at a discount.

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Last year, Carissa Dowd, a single mother with two daughters, took a second job to repay a large debt that stemmed from a dispute with her former landlords.

In 2009, Dowd rented a two-bedroom apartment in Enfield from Deborah and Jon Meyer. When the lease expired in June 2010, Dowd believed she had a “verbal agreement” with the Meyers that allowed her out of a new one-year lease (at $775 a month) if she needed to move out of town to be closer to her daughters’ schools. (The Meyers, who filed a lawsuit against Dowd after she moved to Lebanon in October 2010, said in court that they “never had such an agreement.”)

Lebanon Circuit Judge Albert Cirone ruled in the Meyers’ favor, ordering Dowd to pay $7,100 in back rent and fees. I wrote about the case after Cirone increased Dowd’s monthly repayments to the Meyers from $150 to $250 a month.

After reading about Dowd’s plight, lawyers Tom Hayes of Woodstock and Mark Melendy of Hanover were each contacted by a client who wanted to help. The two donors, who wished to remain anonymous, sent checks to the lawyers with instructions to pay off the remaining $5,300 that Dowd owed.

“The Meyers haven’t responded, but they have cashed the checks,” Hayes told me on Monday. (The Meyers didn’t respond to my email, either.)

But I did get an email from Dowd. “Accepting help is not something I have ever done very well, but in this case, it has renewed my belief that there are good people in this world who care about the struggles of others,” she wrote. “After having spent a few months last fall working 12 hour days to pay this judgment, I have found a new appreciation for people who work more than one job, often just to make ends meet.”

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I’m happy to report that Jill Servant no longer must drive her teenage sons to Panera bakery in West Lebanon to do their homework.

The Servants live on Trues Book Road in West Lebanon, which is only a couple of miles from Route 12A. But it wasn’t until about a month ago that high-speed Internet service came to their part of the city.

Servant began her crusade to bring high-speed to homes along Trues Brook, the two-lane asphalt road that connects West Lebanon and Meriden, in 2009. She visited city hall, contacted city councilors and collected more than 40 signatures on a petition.

Servant, an office manager at Dartmouth College, argued that neighborhoods without high speed were at a disadvantage — particularly when it came time for their kids to research homework assignments. (Thus the Servants’ trips to Panera, which offers wireless high speed to its patrons.)

Servant learned that Comcast Corp. offered high-speed Internet to thousands of households across the city. Unlike neighboring Hanover, however, Lebanon didn’t have a franchise agreement with the telecommunications giant. In other words, the city had no leverage with Comcast that would bring high-speed to the less populated parts of Lebanon.

Unwilling to wait for the city go get its act together, Servant reached out to Fairpoint, which agreed to install equipment needed to put Trues Brook Road on the information highway.

Meanwhile, I asked City Manager Greg Lewis on Monday how negotiations were going with Comcast. “I am optimistic we will reach a franchise agreement working with Comcast, but its finalization will have to work its way through a detailed and thorough process,” Lewis replied in an email. “The time frame from beginning to ending for such franchises is often two to three years.”

Figuring her sons would be in college before the city and Comcast had reached a deal, Servant turned to Fairpoint. For $75 a month, her family now has Internet and phone services.

Servant still visits Panera, “but only if I want a cup of soup,” she said.